The T-shaped marketer

Rising amount of freelancers in the US

The US is the most prominent example of the rise of the freelancing workforce. Being one of the most important business hubs in the world, it is easy to say that many other countries will follow this trend. One needs to consider this when considering the job path they will be following.

The term freelancer is quite flexible as well. It doesn’t only refer to an individual with episodic income whom works for themselves and gathers their own clients. It may also refer to someone who either has a part time job and gathers income by doing many small jobs on the side; or a person with a dedicated job that increases their income by working on their own work projects.

According to article:

Currently 1 in 3 workers in the US are freelancers or 42.6 million people
40% of the US workforce will be freelancer’s by 2020 60 million people

According to the econsultancy blog these are the top ten skills provided by UK freelancers to businesses in 2013:

  1. Article Writing
  2. Content Writing
  3. English translation
  4. Blogs
  5. Web Content
  6. Graphic Design
  7. PHP
  8. Copywriting
  9. Creative Writing
  10. HTML

All of these skills apply directly to digital marketing. Judging from this, there are no job shortages in the UK digital marketing scene and South Africa is not dissimilar to this. This makes it entirely possible to consider changing careers. Be warned though, digital marketers love digital marketing because they embrace change and are able to adapt and learn quickly. If you feel you don’t have the stomach for continuous learning, then perhaps digital marketing is not for you.

Digital marketing as a single skillset is too broad, how do you become a specialist but remain dynamic?

Think of digital marketing as a “T”. The horizontal line ensures that you have enough knowledge across all the digital marketing disciplines but the tail of the “T” (the vertical line) is the skillset that you specialise in. The deeper your knowledge of a specific discipline the more sought after you will become in the job market. I recently got asked, “How do I become a consultant?” My answer.. “Blog about your skill and share your opinions, distribute this content to the correct channels and you will soon become a thought leader amongst your industry peers. Be on top of your game, always. Embrace continuous learning.”

This is the start, your efforts will open up doors of opportunity. Be patient.


t shaped web marketer 600x376 The T shaped marketer


The days of hiring based solely on qualifications and degrees are starting to become less relevant in today’s digital marketing industry. You may say “Why does Webgrowth offer an OMCP certification for students and professionals doing your courses?” The industry specialists and thought leaders from OMCP that sign off our training material gives Webgrowth credibility. Learners need to know that our training material is some of the best in the world. However, we continue to tell our learners not to do our courses for the certificate but rather because of the standard of training material and practical application.

Webgrowth’s vision is to continue to raise the benchmark of South African digital marketers

The rise of specialist digital marketing careers directly correlates with the rise of freelancers. Coincidence? I think not.. Webgrowth wants to support this progression. Supporting bloggers, consultants and technicians of all digital marketing disciplines and newbies to the industry is how we see the industry growing. We can’t settle for a piece of paper. Digital marketing requires more than this.

In current times, businesses that are involved with digital marketing will rather hire the person that is completely suitable for the job than a person who is a generalist with a qualification or degree (sometimes they don’t always have this luxury..). Not to say degrees and qualifications aren’t important, they are (very important). It goes without saying that we need a standard for the engineering, accounting and health industries (I’ve definitely missed a few others) but digital marketing is it’s own animal and training needs to adapt accordingly. A person with real work experience in the digital marketing industry and a proven track record with a specialist skillset will be more likely to get a job than a person with a degree without any work experience. If you are starting out in the industry, seriously consider an internship at an agency to gain as much experience as possible. In this day and age, one needs to be prepared for multiple jobs over a long period of time instead of a singular job over that same period of time.

The worst thing you can do in the current job scene is stick to your specialist skillset without considering learning other skills. Remember the “T” marketer. If you are a SEO, content marketer or social media consultant stuck in yesterdays thinking, you are in deep trouble. Don’t brush aside the opportunity to learn new skills, rather be prepared for another job that may require your skills in conjunction with others. This will make you an asset to any team and your continuous learning methodology is sure to impress in the company boardroom.

The idea of hopping from one job to the next is less frowned upon nowadays, which is probably the reason for the rise in freelancers. Being a freelancer that has worked on a number of projects is a lot more attractive than a full time employee that can’t hold a job for a long period of time. Each client has their own objectives and completing those objectives requires a variety of skills. Depending on how long the project lasts is in direct proportion to how long your job lasts. Move with the tides but be wise to arm yourself with knowledge that makes you stand out from the rest of the “gurus”.

With that being said, don’t discount the value of a deep understanding of your respective skill. If you job hop, you stand the chance of becoming a generalist.. So I don’t want to be giving the wrong advice here… Your current position needs to be seen in context. It needs to be said that there is huge value in deepening your skills in one discipline, especially if there is a high demand for it. You will need to use common sense as to how much further experience you need and what the payoff will be. Unfortunately I can’t answer this in one blog post. If you are needing advice, drop me an email (or submit a comment below). I’ll be happy to get an understanding of your current position and advise accordingly.

How do I learn digital marketing and create a job for myself?

Webgrowth has positioned itself as a training company with project experience. Although our focus is on training, we will continue to manage several digital marketing campaigns to ensure our knowledge is current. I don’t want to see Webgrowth as a stale training institution that can’t adapt quickly. We know digital and will continue to teach others the tried and tested techniques. All of the Webgrowth courses offer insight from the most expert figure-heads in the digital marketing community. From Greg Jarboe to Avinash Kaushik, you can look up any of the names in our courses and you will find a plethora of information about them. We essentially hand you the world’s best digital marketing training on a silver platter by means of high quality video’s on our eLearning platform. Together with our practical applications, our students get to enjoy what we believe is the complete package.

In addition, each of the courses has their own custom study guide that we mail to you once you have paid for the course. The study guides are highly useful because you can keep them after the time of your course has expired. There are sections in the study guide for note taking so you can reference this information for future digital marketing projects.

Changing careers might seem scary at first, but the possibilities in regards to digital marketing are endless. There is no shortage of jobs in the digital marketing scene, you just need to apply yourself and you will fit right in.


Founder of webgrowth. He has been optimising websites since 2006. He has since done guest talks on SEO at Wordcamp, University of Cape Town, Blogger Food Indaba and others.. Co-founder of the GROW Academy, a South African initiative to educate the youth in digital marketing. He heads up the SEO sessions at the GROW Academy. He is also the Search Marketing Strategist for the Rawson Property Group.